U.S. government flyer, 1942
This flyer, distributed by a wartime agency called the "Office of Facts and Figures," was meant to help non-Asian Americans understand the difference between Chinese and Japanese people.
The decades of the 1930s and 1940s brought violent upheavals in China—war with Japan, a brutal Japanese occupation, and World War II, followed by civil war and the takeover of mainland China by Communist forces. The Cold War created a seemingly unbridgeable gap between the United States and mainland China, its former ally. It was a difficult time for Chinese Americans, concerned for their relatives and for the future of their homeland.
Herbert Ling, draftee, saying goodbye to his family in St. Paul, 1942
Nearly one-fourth of Chinese adult males living in the United States enlisted or were drafted into the armed services during World War II. In 1943 Congress repealed the Chinese exclusion laws, although the new law still held immigration from China down to a thin trickle. The law also made it possible—for the first time in U.S. history—for Chinese immigrants to become American citizens.
Ying Huie of Duluth, who enlisted in the Army during the Korean War, about 1952
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